Environmental Health News

What's Working

  • Garden Mosaics projects promote science education while connecting young and old people as they work together in local gardens.
  • Hope Meadows is a planned inter-generational community containing foster and adoptive parents, children, and senior citizens
  • In August 2002, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board voted to ban soft drinks from all of the district’s schools

#835 -- Synthetic Biology (2005 in Review Part 2), 29-Dec-2005

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Rachel's Democracy & Health News #835

"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"

Thursday, December 29, 2005
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.
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Featured stories in this issue...

A Gift of Economic Growth: A Darker Bioweapons Future
  In their constant search for the "next big thing" to drive economic
  growth, investors are now banking on a new field of science called
  "synthetic biology." The aim is to create entirely new forms of life,
  with little thought for consequences. This is genetic engineering on
  steroids, but the U.S. government warns that it will bring "a darker
  bioweapons future."
The Soul of Environmentalism
  "We must have the courage to name what is right and plot a course
  that connects to everyday lives and transforms them. If we do this, we
  can re-frame our movements in ways that astonish, delight, and
  liberate. The debate surrounding "The Death of Environmentalism" is
  really an opening to re-examine modern political strategy in general,
  and environmentalism in particular." -- The Soul of Environmentalism

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From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #835, Dec. 29, 2005

A GIFT OF ECONOMIC GROWTH: A DARKER BIOWEAPONS FUTURE

By Peter Montague

In this series, we are summarizing what seem to us the top 10
developments of 2005.

Last week we described the rush to commercialize nanotechnology
without any realistic hope of regulating it. See Rachel's #834. This
week we describe genetic engineering on steroids -- a new field called
"synthetic biology" in which scientists are setting out to create new
forms of life that have never existed before.

In "genetic engineering," natural genes from one species are inserted
by force into a different species, hoping to transfer the properties
or characteristics of one species into another. Trout can live in cold
water, so maybe a trout gene blasted into a tomato will help tomatoes
withstand cold weather. The limitation on this system is the
characteristics that nature has built into the genes of species.

Now scientists have overcome that limitation. They are learning to
develop entirely new species, new forms of life. Awareness of this new
scientific specialty -- called "synthetic biology" -- began to appear
in the press in 2005.

The construction of living things from raw chemicals was first
demonstrated in 2002 when scientists created a polio virus from
scratch. They found the polio virus genome on the internet, and
within 2 years had created a virus from raw chemicals. The synthetic
virus could reproduce and, when injected into mice, paralyzed them
just as a natural polio virus would do. They said they chose the polio
virus to demonstrate what a bioterrorist could accomplish.

"It is a little sobering to see that folks in the chemistry laboratory
can basically create a virus from scratch," James LeDuc of the federal
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said at the
time.

A year later, in 2003 Craig Venter and colleagues at the Institute for
Biological Energy Alternatives in Rockville, Md., took only 3 weeks
to create a virus from scratch.

Later that same year the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) published a
short paper called "The Darker Bioweapons Future," reporting the
conclusions of a panel of life science experts convened by the
National Academy of Sciences. The CIA paper said, in part, "The
effects of some of these engineered biological agents could be worse
than any disease known to man." And the CIA said, "The same science
that may cure some of our worst diseases could be used to create the
world's most frightening weapons." The CIA offered one example: "For
example, one panelist cited the possibility of a stealth virus attack
that could cripple a large portion of people in their forties with
severe arthritis, concealing its hostile origin and leaving a country
with massive health and economic problems."

Nature magazine -- England's most prestigious science journal --
said in 2004 that synthetic biology "carries potential dangers that
could eclipse the concerns already raised about genetic engineering
and nanotechnology."

Last month, the British journal New Scientist said in an editorial,
"Let us hope that tomorrow's terrorists don't include people with PhDs
in molecular genetics." The editorial went on to explain why the
technology cannot regulated: "The underlying technology has already
proliferated worldwide, and some gene-synthesis companies that are
ostensibly based in the west are thought to manufacture their DNA in
China and other countries in the far east where skilled labour is
cheap."

The editorial was written in response to an investigation conducted by
the editors of New Scientist. They wondered if they could special-
order DNA over the internet and have it shipped to them by mail (which
the Brits call "post," not mail). Their report is titled, "The
bioweapon is in the post," and they concluded that it would be
doable, and that commerce in such things would be difficult -- or
impossible -- to control. "But with gene synthesis firms springing up
all over the world, and the underlying technology becoming cheaper and
more widely available, it is unclear whether regulations enacted in
any one country will be enough."

"It's going to be virtually impossible to control," predicts David
Magnus of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.

The New Scientist editorial ends by saying, "If there ever was a case
for scientists around the world to engage in sensible self-regulation
before a nightmare becomes reality, this is it."

Unfortunately, scientists are ill-equipped by their training to
grapple with the ethical and moral dimensions of their work.
Scientists have no equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath -- "First do no
harm" -- that guides the behavior of physicians. The Hippocratic oath
counsels restraint, humility, and caution. In science, on the other
hand, wherever your curiosity takes you is the right place to go, even
if it takes you into "a darker bioweapons future."

Small wonder that so many people have lost faith in science,
scientific progress, and the promise of America. As the editors of
Nature said in 2004, "Controversies over genetically engineered crops
and embryo research are leading people to question how carefully
scientists consider the possible consequences of their work before
barreling ahead. This is no small concern for science, as it has
already led to restrictions."

But of course it isn't just scientists who are responsible for
speeding the deployment of ill-considered technologies onto the world
market. The underlying engine for all this reckless behavior is an
economic system that requires economic growth year after year.

Our society has grown dependent upon economic growth for achieving
"liberty and justice for all." You say your slice of the pie is
unacceptably small and you're having to sleep under a bridge? Don't
worry -- economic growth will make the whole pie larger, so your tiny
slice will grow too. Thus domestic tranquility, justice, fairness, and
fulfilling the promise of America are all dependent upon economic
growth. We don't have any other widely-approved way to distribute the
benefits of the economy, except through economic growth. We have
forgotten the alternative, which is sharing.

But decade after decade since 1970, economic growth rates have been
stagnant or declining, not just in the U.S. but throughout the
"developed" world.

Slow growth derives from at least two sources -- productive capacity
exceeds consumer demand and we have a glut of capital, so it is
getting harder to find good investments.

These two features of the modern economy force investors to constantly
search for "the next big thing" -- in hopes of returning to historical
rates of return on investment. As a consequence, corporations (which
have limited liability, by law) engage in reckless behavior --
including behavior that may threaten the well being of everyone. They
create new biotech crops and deploy them across the nation's
agricultural landscape before thorough tests have been completed. They
put nano particles into baby lotion before they have any idea whether
the nano particles can penetrate a baby's skin, and before they have
asked where those nano particle will go after they are thrown out with
the bath water.

So now we have synthetic biology -- the "next big thing" -- genetic
engineering on steroids -- the manufacture of living organisms unlike
any that have appeared on earth before. Investors are lining up to
support new firms that are willing to sell the building blocks of new
forms of life to anyone who can come up with a few hundred thousand
dollars. This may in fact produce the next big thing, but it may not
be quite the thing investors are hoping for.

Until we devise a steady-state economy that does not require perpetual
growth, investors will keep us on this awful "next big thing" merry-
go-round, our quality of life continually threatened anew by the ill-
considered products and unanticipated by-products of feral science.

Return to Table of Contents

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From: Grist Magazine, May 27, 2005

THE SOUL OF ENVIRONMENTALISM

Rediscovering transformational politics in the 21st century

By Michel Gelobter, Michael Dorsey, Leslie Fields, Tom Goldtooth,
Anuja Mendiratta, Richard Moore, Rachel Morello-Frosch, Peggy M.
Shepard, and Gerald Torres

An Introduction to the "Soul" of Movements

Someday I hope you get the chance,
To live like you were dyin'
-- Tim McGraw, 2004

Can a Movement Really Die?

In 1991, Dana Gioia, the poet who now heads the National Endowment for
the Arts, published a magazine article proclaiming the death of
poetry. He looked at a multitude of small-circulation 'zines and
academic reviews that published nothing but verse and said, "The heart
sinks to see so many poems crammed so tightly together, like downcast
immigrants in steerage." A few months later, another writer argued
that poetry had become irrelevant and attacked "preening" work by an
anonymous, but ethnically specified, "Hawaiian of Japanese ancestry."

Poetry as a movement was afloat, vital, and most definitely not dead.
Immigration and ethnicity aside, Rap was Def by 1991. Today, the live
club performance series "Def Poetry Jam" attracts television viewers
"in the upper millions," according to co-founder Bruce George. Def
means "death" in the lingo of the Rap genre, and its blossoming was
just one symptom of the life that words in rhyme have to this day.

We thought of "Def Poetry" while reading "The Death of
Environmentalism," an essay released by two activist communications
consultants last fall. The furious debate that erupted around that
essay is a sign that the environmental movement is still alive and
kicking. And just as in the debate over poetry, we should thank the
medical examiners for their premature autopsies. Their first incisions
have jolted the still body to new life. The lively corpse is now
reacting thoughtfully and with vigor.

We have discussed "The Death of Environmentalism" with environmental
justice and sustainability activists, leaders from the reproductive
and gay rights movements, members of the faith community, labor
organizers, philanthropists, business executives, and people in the
military. Like us, they have saluted the essay for jump-starting a
debate over our shared strategic challenges. Leaders of the
environmental justice movement welcome the essay because it echoes
concerns they've been working on for well over two decades.

We want to be sure that the crux of the critique stays at the fore and
moves forward. We want to be sure that environmentalism's true
strengths, as embodied in Environmental Justice, Sustainability, and a
number of other movements, increase to scale. We are also writing to
bring the broader perspectives we've encountered into the debate. We
have a few myths to bust about contemporary activism and a few points
to add about the environmental movement's true heritage.

In the '90s, the declaration that "poetry is dead" was an attempt to
deny and to marginalize a rich array of new anti-establishment forms
of poetry. Back then, the writers ignored rap, performance art, and
poetry slams. The debate over "The Death of Environmentalism" feels
like a similar exercise in its omissions.

This reaction follows from a point Wendell Berry made in a 1970 essay
titled "The Hidden Wound": "The crucial difference, I think, between
our society and others that have been divided, by class if not by
race, is that in our self-protective silence up to now about the whole
problem, we have not developed the language by which to recognize the
extent or the implications of the division, and we have not developed
either the language or the necessary social forms by which to
recognize across the division our common interest and our common
humanity."

Environmentalism and other progressive movements in the United States
are not dead, but they are crippled by denial. Right-wing extremists
are not any closer to the truth than progressives, but their political
agenda thrives to the extent racial and class inequality is denied.
"The Death of Environmentalism" does an admirable job of starting a
debate over how environmental organizations should change their
strategies. But what we really need is a death of denial.

Environmentalism, like poetry, has a soul deeper and more eternal than
the one described by its examiners. It's a soul tied deeply to human
rights and social justice, and this tie has been nurtured by the
Environmental Justice and Sustainability movements for the past 20
years. We are writing to explore this soul, to break the unwritten gag
rule about race and class, and to examine the intermingled roots of
social change movements. These roots, these rules, and this soul
together hold the key to environmentalism's new life.

I got two white horses following me,
waiting on my burying ground
-- Blind Lemon Jefferson, 1927

As we move through George W. Bush's second term, it might seem as
though progressive and liberal ideas are almost wholly out of fashion.
War and security dominated the Democratic Party's agenda in 2004, even
as it tried to win the election on health care and the economy. Right
after the election, the Bush Administration freed publicly funded
clinics from the obligation to provide abortion services, and no one
seemed to pay much attention.

It is fashionable to explain Bush's strength by saying that "frames
trump facts." George Lakoff, a cognitive scientist at the University
of California, has gained some notoriety by pointing out that ideas
have physical, cultural, and political manifestations, called
"frames," that rarely depend on the facts. You can't necessarily
change someone's frame of reference simply by stating a new one, even
if your frame wins on the facts.

Frames can trump facts, but UC Berkeley sociologist Tom Medvetz points
out that Lakoff's cognitive science is limited to analyzing what goes
on in people's brains. What's happening to environmentalism has a lot
to do also with history and with institutions, and a singular focus on
framing can also be a form of denial.

Frames emerge from history, and they are connected with institutions.
To win, we must take on all of it -- the frames, the history, and the
institutions. We must have the courage to name what is right and plot
a course that connects to everyday lives and transforms them. If we do
this, we can re-frame our movements in ways that astonish, delight,
and liberate. The debate surrounding "The Death of Environmentalism"
is really an opening to re-examine modern political strategy in
general, and environmentalism in particular. In the next few pages,
we're going to widen that opening and blaze a trail through it.

Why Race and Class Matter to the Environmental Movement

El costo de la vida sube otra vez. El peso que baja ya ni se ve,
Y las habichuelas, no se pueden comer, ni una libra de arroz, ni una
cuarta de cafe.
A nadie le importa que piensa usted. Sera porque aqui
No hablamos ingles
-- Juan Luis Guerra, 1996*

Environmentalism in the United States has always been as diverse as
our country itself. In the 19th century, for example, African American
abolitionists fought slavery as well as the use of arsenic in tobacco
fields. Later, Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King, Jr., were only two
of thousands of people of color whose movements for justice set the
template for Earth Day. These leaders are part of our soul as
environmentalists. The rebirth of the movement depends on being clear
about that lineage.

The authors of "The Death of Environmentalism" begin by invoking their
ancestors. "Those of us who are children of the environmental movement
must never forget that we are standing on the shoulders of all those
who came before us," they write. They cite John Muir and David Brower
-- and Martin Luther King, too. They quote from interviews they did
with 25 senior executives at mainstream environmental groups. History
seems duly respected. But we need to stop the music here and make two
big points before we leave the subject of ancestry.

First, many environmentalists would rather not stand on the shoulders
of certain early conservation heroes. Muir developed his conservation
ethic during the Civil War and the expropriation of Native American
lands, the two great racial struggles of the 19th century. He pretty
much ignored both of them, according to Carl Anthony, an historian and
urban planner. After dodging the Civil War draft by going to Canada,
Muir walked the occupied lands of the West and the South and saw
nothing more sinister than "forest walls vine-draped and flowery as
Eden." Before we sanctify Muir, we need to understand how his racial
attitudes affected his commitments to conservation. If the
environmental movement is ever going to revive, it must first confront
the many ways in which the U.S. has reserved open space for the
exclusive use of whites.

John Muir's racism is about more than just history. It's about
building a new frame for a bigger environmental movement. There are
better shoulders for us to stand on. In 1849, Henry Thoreau explained
that he was refusing to pay taxes to a government "which buys and
sells men, women, and children like cattle at the door of its senate-
house." In 1914, Louis Marshall made the critical argument that saved
the Adirondack wilderness, despite the fact that he was a Jew and many
of his neighbors in the North Country were rabid anti-Semites. In the
1930s, Marshall's son Robert founded the modern wilderness protection
movement. Around the same time, Zora Neale Hurston documented
multiethnic America in her many books about people and nature. In the
1960s, Henry Dumas wrote of the healing role of nature in even the
most viciously segregated rural areas of the South.

"The Death of Environmentalism" refers often to America's "core
values" and cites surveys that show how those values have changed in
the last decade. But when people talk about their core values their
words don't always match their meaning. For much of American history,
the values of "freedom" and "progress" have been code words for a
system that profits by oppressing the poor and communities of color.
U.S. rhetoric is taking this charade to new heights globally while
masking an agenda that actually celebrates authoritarian control and
the decay of civic life.

Denying the racial content of the "values" debate in the U.S. today
only deepens the predicament of environmentalism. Harvard sociologist
Orlando Patterson reminds us how the idea of freedom has been
intertwined with the practice of slavery. From ancient Greece to the
United States of 1776, he says, cultures that have theorized and
celebrated "freedom" have simultaneously excluded huge swaths of their
populations from any shred of it. At the same time, nations through
history that profess to love "freedom" have been relentless in
promoting heartless geopolitical agendas outside their borders.

Freedom is an important value, and its meaning is an important debate.
Denying the links between "freedom" and oppression makes it harder for
progressives to articulate a broader vision. The death of this denial
is liberating because it links us more fully to our rough and glorious
pasts. It also points the way to new choices and a more hopeful
future.

Elvis was a hero to most,
but he never meant shit to me...
-- Public Enemy, 1989

Giving a nod to your ancestors when you start talking is a good
oratorical trick. It establishes that your ancestors are dead, so
you're in charge now. But the authors of "The Death of
Environmentalism" completely ignore a second set of ancestors who need
to be included in our deliberations. We're talking about the people
who brought you the Civil Rights Movement.

Modern environmentalism was, after all, the Elvis of Sixties activism.
It was a radical and innovative departure from the conservation
movement that preceded it. And in almost every way, the politics and
innovations of the early environmental movement derived directly from
the same era's fight for black power and racial justice.

Norm Collins, the Ford Foundation program officer who first funded the
Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense, and others,
wrote in his decision memos that what was needed was "an NAACP for the
environment." National legislative victories for the environment
depended heavily on a re-jiggering of states' rights. This strategy
copied one that had already been used successfully by the Civil Rights
Movement. A critical factor in the passage of the Clean Air Act, for
example, was to unify and to supersede the patchwork of existing air
quality standards that states had promulgated on their own. And mass
mobilizations for the environment depend heavily on nonviolent civil
disobedience as popularized by African American advocates in the
1960s.

Just as the courts were fertile ground for black liberation,
environmental organizations sought standing for nature and human
health in ways that deeply challenged business as usual. As historian
Roderick Nash pointed out in The Rights of Nature, environmental
activists attempted to extend the 1960s legal focus on the rights of
oppressed individuals to nature and to people facing environmental
risks. Boycotts, consumer campaigns, and labor-environment alliances
-- where would these be without the models established by Cesar Chavez
and the United Farm Workers?

The environmental justice movement emerged in the 1980s as a way to
revitalize the grassroots activism started by the Civil Rights
Movement. It also offered a home for activists who weren't comfortable
separating their concern over the state of the planet from their
concerns about social justice. Twenty years later, the mainstream
environmental movement has been unable to racially integrate its
senior staff, not because of overt discrimination but because of
differences in vision. Many environmentalists of color admire the
mainstream movement's goals, but they also know firsthand that social
justice is routinely ignored in the mainstream movement's decision-
making.

Despite its limitations, environmentalism as we know it today wasn't
just the marriage of liberalism and conservation. It was committed
activists, engaged in struggle and riffing on every tool they could
see around them. Like Elvis, the environmental movement had soul --
and soul is one thing you can't kill.

The Lessons We Haven't Learned from the Struggles for Civil Rights

Don't nobody know my troubles but God.
-- Dock Reed, Henry Reed, and Vera Hall, 1937

Millions of us went into the 1960s burning for the right to eat,
drink, ride, work, play, and pray anywhere we wanted to. We sought a
right to a job, to due process, to health care, to a good education,
to fair housing, to live in the suburbs, to play in parks, and to love
whom we chose. Among the rights we sought, we left the 1970s with
rights to clean air, clean water, and our day in court on questions of
environmental impacts. The Civil Rights Movement didn't fare as well.
After an astonishing string of successes in the 1960s, it lost steam.
The Civil Rights Movement wasn't dead by 1979, but the techniques it
had deployed -- mass mobilization, litigation, policy advocacy, and
moral appeals -- had started to run dry. That ought to sound familiar.

So what knocked Civil Rights off the track?

Me/We
-- Muhammad Ali, 1987

Two leaders who have commented on "The Death of Environmentalism" have
described the problems facing their movement in terms that also
describe a central problem of the Civil Rights Movement. Carl Pope,
executive director of the Sierra Club, acknowledged our failure to
build a case for problems that are "intangible, global, and future
oriented." He added that "rational collective self-interest is an
inadequate approach" (emphasis in original). Former Sierra Club
president Adam Werbach, in a recent speech, emphasizes integration
and interdependence. He says that we haven't found a way to make those
principles part of environmentalism.

The Civil Rights Movement tried to overcome this same challenge.
Remember the "join hands" section of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech
before the Lincoln Memorial in 1963? King had a dream of an Alabama
"where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands
with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters
and brothers." As it turned out, King's phrasing captured both the
promise and the shortcomings of the Civil Rights strategy. The image
in context portrays integration and interdependence. It paints a
picture of a better, tangible, and global future.

In this speech, King yanked America out of fragmentation and
segregation and redefined community.

For a while, our country heard this call. The Civil Rights Act and
other congressional actions of 1965 eliminated many systemic barriers
to global community, such as blanket restrictions on immigration from
non-European countries. Forty years later, 80% of Chinese Americans in
Los Angeles are foreign born. Banks, colleges, and healthcare
providers face heavy fines if they judge people by the color of their
skin. The environmental movement followed suit, focusing on whole
systems with compelling images of rivers on fire and poisoned air.
Barry Commoner put it best when he wrote about a closing circle
between humanity and nature.

Over the next fifteen years, the metaphor of whites and blacks joining
hands came to be interpreted more literally, and more in terms of the
lives of individual people. U.S. Supreme Court decisions of the early
1970s steadily chipped the idea of communities and groups out of civil
rights. The key legal questions became whether specific African
American medical students were entitled to hold hands with specific
white medical students, or whether specific applicants for jobs were
discriminated against by specific entities. And as the lawyers fought,
communities were left out of the discussion.

From the very outset, the Supreme Court steadily rolled back the idea
that Civil Rights had anything to do with groups or communities. They
dragged the dominant frame back across the wall to the picture they
wanted, as if to say, "This country is all about granting rights to
individuals!" The equivalent for the environment would be, to
paraphrase a line from California's 2005 State of the State message,
"What's all this about cars being bad for people and the planet?
California is about driving a motorcycle down Highway 1!"

The problems facing environmentalism today are eerily similar to those
faced by the Civil Rights Movement two decades ago. Any debate over
the death of environmentalism should acknowledge this. Both movements
started out as social uprisings that were visionary and community- and
systems-oriented. Both lost popular support as time went by. Both
narrowed their advocacy increasingly to legal interventions. Both
shifted from winning broad mandates to fighting specific political,
regulatory, and legal battles.

Environmentalism has much to learn from understanding why the Civil
Rights Movement made the choices it did and what the consequences
were. The central debate in the Critical Race Theory field for many
years now has been whether King and, by association, the entire Civil
Rights Movement, made a mistake by framing our struggle in terms of
individual rights at all. By seeking greater rights for African
American individuals, some argue, the movement played into the
country's very strong ideological bias towards the individual and away
from community.

Others highlight the subversive nature of the movement's strategy.
Kimberle Crenshaw, in a seminal 1988 Harvard Law Review article,
showed how, by playing on the rights of the individual, the Civil
Rights Movement found a way to bring communitarian values into the
mainstream. In this view, King and others were using the contradiction
between the United States' values of equality (for individuals) and
the reality of racism to challenge fundamental institutions.

Was there another, less risky way to go for Civil Rights or
environmental leaders of yore? We stand on their shoulders right now
to even ask this question. The important problem is to figure out why,
despite brilliant leadership and mass support, progress on Civil
Rights was all but over by the late 1970s -- and why the soul of
environmentalism is adrift today.

Who's the Man with the Master Plan?
-- House of Pain, 1994

We can think of a few good reasons why environmentalists and civil
rights activists are currently in this tough spot. First of all, in
case anyone forgot, key leaders of the Civil Rights Movement were
assassinated. A few environmental leaders were also killed, and many
were harassed so severely that it became impossible for them to
continue their work.

Tom Medvetz looked recently at why the Heritage Foundation has so
outpaced its progressive counterpart, the Institute for Policy
Studies. Both of them were founded in the mid-1960s by the same type
of people, but IPS's budget today is the same as it was in 1982.
Peering back into the archives, Medvetz was stunned to find how much
money and time was spent from the outset fighting IRS audits, FBI
wiretaps, and even COINTELPRO activity.

The Civil Rights and Environmental movements both played along,
allowing legal action and technical advocacy to dominate their
activism and funding. Whenever a movement spends more energy and money
on winning in court than it does on winning in the streets, it speeds
its own demise. And, as mentioned above, the highest courts of our
land are happy to oblige.

Another reason why both movements have stumbled is the essentially
conservative nature of philanthropy. Today some funders have adopted
progressive values, but they have lagged behind the rest of society by
at least a generation. The Pew Charitable Trusts, for example, were
founded by one of the right wing's most venerable funders, J. Howard
Pew. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it: many great
philanthropies arose from great individual fortunes, so U.S.
foundations to this day emphasize individual-rights approaches far
more than communitarian rights and systemic models of change. They
also seem tuned to individual achievement more than community change.
David Callahan and Francis Kunreuther of the think tank Demos are
among those who have shown how strategic philanthropy has been
fundamentally conservative or supportive of incremental change.

Our country's dominant institutions don't go quietly. Whenever
significant challenges to individualistic ideology crop up, a wide
flank of judicial, governmental, corporate, and quasi-military forces
swing into action to dampen and ultimately defeat the impulse for a
more communitarian society.

(love loves gonna get you) ya know a lot of people believe that that
word Love is real soft, but when you use it in your vocabulary like
you're addicted to it it sneaks right up and takes you right out. out.
out. out. out.

So, for future reference remember it's alright to like or want a
material item, but when you fall in love with it and you start
scheming and carrying on for it, just remember, it's gonna get'cha
-- KRS-ONE, 1990

Our ancestors fought a war of ideas in the streets for the environment
and civil rights. They wanted to make us realize how connected we were
to each other and to the Earth. They wanted to change our institutions
to reflect that insight. The opposition came in the form of state
power: the courts, the FBI, and the barrels of fire hoses and guns.

Antonio Gramsci thought a lot about the struggle between ideas and
state power while sitting in a jail cell in early 20th century Italy.
In any struggle, he wrote, those with legal and physical power engage
in "the war of position." Those without power can only resort to "the
war of maneuver." This is the battle for the hearts and minds of
enough people who will eventually generate enough power to defeat the
war of position. Ideas are the key tool of the powerless in such
battles. And this is the rub for us today.

Just as progressive movements like environmentalism and civil rights
were being beaten back by institutional power, the country's economic
base was shifting towards the production of ideas. The service sector
had dominated the U.S. economy since the 1930s. By the early 1970s we
had moved fully into an economy where the real engine is information
and the production of ideas.

Before we environmentalists waste any more time worrying about how
pitiful our frames are, we should realize this: In the 1960s, General
Motors was really good at making cars. Today, they are really good at
selling the idea of a car; and a war for the idea of equality or the
environment is a lot harder to fight when Americans increasingly spend
their lives in a war of ideas over which brand of fleece sweater they
should buy.

The movement waiting to be born must be stronger than the one that's
dying because the challenges we face now are even more difficult than
the ones we tackled in the 1970s. When the pundits on commercial
television say, "we live in the information age," what they mean is
that ideas have become much more than just instruments of social
change. Ideas have also become the most powerful instruments of
commerce. This means that "the marketplace of ideas" is controlled
more by commercial forces than by politicians, and the two are growing
closer every day. It was no accident that the Bush campaign's
successful strategy in 2004 relied more on market research than on
voter rolls to target its message.

The average trip to a supermarket in the U.S. today lasts 55 minutes,
or 3,300 seconds, and is a carefully choreographed encounter with
3,600 brands, each of which is competing to identify with our most
cherished values. For progressives to win, we must enter the cycle
that constrains the debate over values in the marketplace and break
it. We have to reach people in their souls.

What Winning Looks Like: Ideas and Actions for Transformational
Politics

Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a world of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul
-- Tracy Chapman, 1989

The United States is a country at war. We are world leaders in the
profligate use of fossil fuel, incarceration, private and public debt,
and the gap between rich and poor. We are an ideologically divided
country -- we have the closest elections and one of the lowest rates
of democratic participation. In America today, we are all Romans or
slaves in the most powerful empire the world has ever known.

In the face of unprecedented challenges, great movements cannot choose
ideas and actions by convenience. We must choose those that confront
and overcome the great problems.

This chapter shows how ideas and actions must combine to build
movements and then victories for environmentalism and beyond. Like
Lakoff, we argue for new frames. But the ideas that drive them must
emerge from a deep encounter between our values, our experience, and
the giant social challenges we face. We also argue for a focus on
action: investing in ideas that foster deep change, and transforming
our leadership and our politics to overcome the threats that the last
three chapters have identified.

Idea 1: Fight the Big Fights

How ya gonna win if you're not right within
-- Lauryn Hill, 1995

There is a short list of solutions to the conditions described at the
beginning of this chapter. It includes the idea of community
responsibility and what we owe our children. It includes the personal
responsibility to vote and control our destiny politically, socially,
and in our choices of whom to love. It includes how we carve up our
land, and what residential apartheid is doing to our planet and our
politics. It includes making "be all that you can be" a term
attributable more to Nobel Prizewinning economist Amartya Sen than to
the U.S. Army. It includes a different definition of what it means to
be rich on this earth and in the hereafter.

Somewhere in that last paragraph, or a couple more you can write in a
few minutes, are ideas big enough to challenge the "get-it-while-you-
can/ I-wish-I-had-this-freeway-to-myself/ I-can't-believe-I'm-voting-
for-this-jerk/ Operation-Iraqi-Freedom/ wonder-if-I-have-room-for-
another-extra-dozen-rolls-of-paper-towels-that-are-so-cheap-I've-got-
to-stock-up" frame that is kicking our asses so hard right now. So
take out your pens... and then, when you're finished writing, compare
notes. The goal is to identify the big fights. The discussion we need
to have will identify the crucial intersections in progressive
politics that will allow us to come together in radically new ways.

Table 1 shows the notes we came up with when we tried to list the big
fights and what's at stake for our country.

=======================================================

Table 1: The Big Fights: Cross-Cutting Isssues and What's at Stake

Fight #1. Funding the Public Sector in the 21st Century

What's at stake:

** Exposing the "supply-side" attack on public services like
education, health care, and infrastructure that is driven by large
deficits at every level

** Rolling back the Taxpayer Bill of Rights

** Finding new revenue streams to fund vital public needs

** Reversing budget cuts to environmental and land use agencies*

Fight #2: Land Use

What's at stake:

** Exposing sprawl as a symptom of race and class segregation, not
its cause

** Bringing our message to the core areas for conservative electrocal
strategies: exurbs

** Combating "War on Terror" initiatives that drive people away from
community

** Protecting open land and redeveloping industrial sites*

** Fighting sprawl*

** Promoting Smart Growth*

Fight #3: Human and Reproductive Rights

What's at stake:

** Expanding human rights to include sexual preference

** Advocating for women's rights domestically and internationally

** Reclaiming the definition of "family values"

** Promoting the politics of inclusion

** Fighting overpopulation*

Fight #4: "The War on Terror"

What's at stake:

** Reclaiming tax dollars now spent on the military for more
constructive purposes

** Reporting on waste and corruption in the reborn
"military-industrial complex"

** Turning "terror" from a rallying point to a point for debate

** Fighting increased military pollution*

** Preserving "right to know" laws for critical environmental
information*

Fight #5: Creating Wealth for Everyone

** Protecting the Old New Deal: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid

** Launching the New New Deal: easing poverty and creating wealth for
lower-rung workers in the "information economy"

** Reining in monopolies

** Developing a political formula for distributing information-economy
wealth

** Building community assets like transportation, parks, and the arts;

** Protecting common assets like drinking water, the gene pool, and
airwaves

** Protecting common ownership of land, mineral, and pollution rights*

====================
* = framing often used by environmental advocates

=======================================================

The top row of our table reflects the bottom line of government -- the
budget. Conservative leader Grover Norquist would like a government
"so small it can be drowned in a bathtub." Right-wingers continue to
pass deep tax cuts that create huge deficits, and then ratchet up the
pressure to cut government spending. The only way for parents,
healthcare advocates, labor, reproductive rights, anti-deficit, and
environmental groups to turn this strategy around is to unite against
it and to come out swinging with a new vision for our government's
priorities.

The environmental movement actually holds the key to winning this big
fight. Two of the most important fixes to structural budget deficits
lie in our hands: pollution charges and deep property tax reform. Each
holds the promise of raising up to $300 billion a year in new revenue
while growing our jobs and economy. They do this simply by breaking
our national addictions to fossil fuels and destroying land, and
redirecting resources to more productive parts of the economy.

Another big fight is to grow the battle to protect wilderness and open
space while reflecting all the challenges embedded in it. Land
conservation traces its roots in U.S. culture to 19th century
environmentalism, and land use activists today have expanded their
efforts to fight sprawl. To fight effectively, they must open several
new fronts. Right-wing apparatchiks know that sprawl works in their
favor. As long as outer-outer-ring exurban homes offer lower taxes and
better schools, they will undercut community while supporting the
delusions of Americans who are anti-government.

The new environmental movement also has to stand with groups that
fight for sexual and reproductive rights because our histories are so
intertwined. Laws restricting marriage in the United States trace
their roots to the control of slaves, indigenous people, and land. One
obstacle environmentalism increasingly faces is the privatization of
nature, and efforts to ban gay marriage are closely related to efforts
aimed at radically shrinking the public sphere.

People who advocate for the Earth must speak out against the
destruction being wrought by the War on Terror. Accepting this new
paradigm for national security means complicity in the creation of
"national sacrifice zones" like the bombing range in Vieques, Puerto
Rico; a domestic police state; and an ideological rallying point for
the far right.

A final big fight has emerged from the new ways wealth is being
created in the information economy. The U.S. today is in a period
similar to the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, in that we are
passing things that once belonged to all of us into the hands of the
few. The effects of this shift have been disastrous for the average
American. In the late 1800s, government abetted the concentration of
wealth through policies like the Homestead Act and the Mineral Rights
Act. Today we are experiencing similar "land grabs" of tremendously
valuable resources in arenas like the Internet, cell-phone bandwidth,
and genetic information. Imagine if every water pipe in 1900 had been
installed by Comcast or Verizon, and you get some sense of the assets
we are now denying our children. Who owns bandwith? Who owns the sky?
The proper answer is "everyone."

The economic boom of the 1990s was one of the biggest in American
history, but almost all of the new money it generated went to the top
one-fifth of U.S. households. Today more people are rich, and the
richest few have enough money to make Louis XIV feel inadequate.
Environmentalists have over a century of experience fighting the land
grabs and wanton resource depletion that originated in the 19th
century. These land grabs are the models for the dysfunctional parts
of the information economy. It's time we put our long experience in
service of a new definition of shared wealth for everyone.

Idea 2: Community

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers
The mountains and the endless plain --
All, all the stretch of these great green states --
And make America again!
-- Langston Hughes, 1938

Sharing is one theme that unites all the fights on this short list as
well [as] the bulk of Civil Rights activists, environmentalists,
community leaders. What we have in common is the idea of commonality
itself. The traditional values of Native Americans are based on
sharing and community in nature. The deeper call of the Civil Rights
Movement was to community wellbeing and harmony. And both Carl Pope
and Adam Werbach, in their responses to "The Death of
Environmentalism," call for approaches that go beyond self-interest to
integration.

Americans have a schizophrenic relationship to communitarian values.
On the one hand, we have the cultural and political roots described
earlier. We also have a strong tradition of patriotism and
volunteerism that brings people together in diverse and cross-cutting
communities. Yet our culture seems to have lost the ability to speak
of shared wealth, community, and the commons.

We are already one of the most privatized societies in the world, and
the right wing wants to push it even further. The privatization
movement is really an attack on the idea of the commons and community.
As our shared political and public spaces shrink, so too does our
ability to take collective action to relieve poverty and protect the
environment. The mainstream used to listen when we talked about
solving these problems through collective action. But now civic space
has eroded so much that mainstream Americans think these problems can
be remedied by a "free market." The term "market failure" has become
exotic and marginal.

Idea 3: Growing Small Victories into Dominant Values

How are the Souls called forth?
-- Henry Dumas, 1963

The frames the old movements used were linked to a string of
incremental victories that evolved from a long struggle. Almost a
century after the Civil War, African Americans had little reason to
believe that they could ever wield real political power. Yet a mere 10
years separate the bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks from the passage
of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That political sea change was the
flowering of something that had deep roots. The most important
contribution of the civil rights activists of the 1930s, 1940s, and
early 1950s was to build faith in the potential for change. Today's
progressive activists must also build from one strength to another,
from small victories to dominant values.

In 1961, John F. Kennedy inspired the country by announcing an
ambitious and all-consuming goal -- the Apollo program, which would
put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Today the authors of
"The Death of Environmentalism" have issued a similar call. They have
joined with others to launch the "New Apollo Project" to radically
reduce America's dependency on oil as a source of energy over the next
10 years. They are calling for big investments in energy efficiency.
This would be great. We support this goal. But we shouldn't confuse
this new movement with the way JFK organized the moon shot. We should
focus investments on the smaller, visionary victories sprouting up all
around us. In fact, the Apollo Alliance has adopted this approach by
supporting state and local-level activism.

In the early 1980s, environmental activists began to use the term
"sustainability" to refer to a movement that began with pollution
control and land protection but also included social justice, economic
sufficiency, and democratic governance. American media and mainstream
activists have a hard time with this new term for two reasons: first,
it implies inter-connectedness; and second, because it implicates us
in the profligate use of resources. Yet sustainability is an idea
deeply rooted in grassroots activism around the country. Visionary
national solutions from the Blue-Green Alliance to pension-fund
activism all reflect a linkage between human, economic, and
environmental rights.

The domestic movement for sustainability is linked, in turn, to
international movements that are politically mainstream in their home
countries. Sustainability is a pillar of national constitutions in
Europe, while in less-developed countries the concept is often a
unifying force in bringing landless, coal mining, or rural communities
together in supporting environmental measures. The models for the U.S.
may be slightly different, but there is no shortage of winning
strategies and coalitions to import.

Environmental justice is another visionary movement that emerged in
the mid-1980s to redefine civil and environmental rights. It has had
many successes, but few mainstream environmental organizations have
noticed how or why. For example, California has been leading the
country in eroding civil rights for communities of color and
immigrants. But, at the same time, California has also passed six
environmental justice laws since 1993. The environmental justice
movement is based in some of our country's most resource poor but idea
and spiritually rich communities, and its leaders are keeping hope
alive.

The environmental justice and sustainability movements have been re-
framing environmental issues for more than 20 years. They see
environmental challenges in ways that are new to the mainstream
movement, and these new frames have already taken root in lots of
ways. Table 2 shows some of the ways these movements have re-stated,
renewed, and reworked traditional environmental issues into a broader,
more powerful base.

=======================================================
Table 2

Re-framing Environmentalism: "New" Frames From the Environmental
Justice and Sustainability Movements

Environmental issue: Energy use and Global Warming

Conventional Frame: A threat to human health and ecosystems, present
and future

New frames:

** Clean energy/new economy -- climate and energy policy is about
human rights, jobs, security, trade and economics

** One planet nuclear and climate policy can't work without global
community

** Justice: Climate policy must remedy the huge expropriation of
natural resources and ecosystems by wealthy countries

** The sky and nature's bounty belong to all: most coal and nuclear
reserves are on aboriginal lands in China, the U.S., and Russia. Who
owns the right to change our climate?

** Addiction: fossil-fuel use is a symptom of addiction to unhealthy
production and consumption

Environmental issue: Toxics

Conventional frame:

** Pollutants should be regulated one at a time

** Risk assessment governs the process

New frames:

** Better safe than sorry: follow the precautionary principle

** Polluter responsibility: shift the burden of proof

** Creation is sacred

Environmental issue: Land Use

Conventional frame:

** Promote living patterns that use less resources

** Preserve green spaces

New frames:

** Living together: regional inequity and segregation drive land use
policy

** Ownership for all: exclusion from land ownership and access to
parks is immoral

Environmental issue: Ecosystems

Conventional frame: Protect species diversity

New frames:

** Secred creation: treat all living things with respect and
consideration

** One world: humans are integral to ecosystems

Environmental issue: Clean Technology, Renewable Energy, and Energy
Efficiency

Conventional frame:

** Regulate technology

** Mandate higher performance

** Develop green power

New frames:

** Smart, fair, and clean: policies that genuinely benefit workers,
low-income communities, and nature

** Raise all boats: efficiency gains must serve equity gains

** A better system: plans for new energy technologies must include
life-cycle analyses

Environmental issue: Consumption

Conventional frame:

** The crisis is overconsumption

** recycle

New frames:

** Bounty: The crisis in material consumption has spiritual roots

** Producing value: challenging the economics of production

Environmental issue: Environmental health

Conventional frame:

** Protect children's health

** Find causal links between pollution and disease

New frames:

** Honest care: There are tight links between polluters and the health
care industry. Bost subsidize health advocacy organizations.

** Deep health: modern medicine is about fixing symptoms, not causes.

Environmental problem: Conservation Finance

Conventional frame:

** More nature

New frame:

** Open access: more nature for all.

Sources: The Earth Charter, Principles of Environmental Justice,
Principles of Climate Justice, Tokyo Declaration, Bruntland
Commission.

=======================================================

Successful movements fight big fights. They call for community and
they build momentum from small victories. In short, they have a
strategy for winning people's hearts and moving their values.
Transformational politics also means new types of action designed to
win the big fights.

Action 1: The 15% Solution

I'm tryin to make a dollar out of fifteen cents
It's hard to be legit and still pay tha rent
-- Tupac Shakur, 1993

The Bush Administration's refusal to act on climate change was the
main reason why "The Death of Environmentalism" was written. The
authors call for a radical revision of the movement's goals and a more
expansive definition of winning, just as we do. But the problem goes
beyond needing a clearer vision. U.S. energy industries have already
prepared themselves for a tactical fight. Efforts to control
greenhouse gas emissions at the state level, for example, are
hamstrung by industry advocacy for coal and nuclear energy. Michael
Noble, the executive director of Minnesotans for an Energy Efficient
Economy, is proud of the $100 million a year in wind energy investment
slated for his region in coming years. But he wonders what he will
tell his children about the $2 billion a year that will be invested in
the same region in coal-fired power plants.

Global warming is an economic, trade, human rights, security, and jobs
issue. When you're in the thick of it, lobbying for changes in climate
policy often feels like leading Napoleon's troops into Russia.
Environmentalists join only with other environmentalists to stop
global warming, slow investment in coal, and fight the re-licensing of
nuclear facilities that are now sold as "climate-friendly." What's
more, we have to do all these things at the same time!

These efforts are not misguided. They just aren't enough. The
environmental community must also invest deeply in outreach to other
constituencies affected by these policies. We must get to know anti-
deficit groups, community development organizations, labor unions, and
trade associations for new industries. We must celebrate and join in
common cause with those in evangelical communities who assert a
scriptural basis for the sustainable and responsible stewardship of
our earth. We must build a new macro-frame for a clean energy future.
The goal is to shift the ideological and institutional playing field
so that dirty energy industries are the ones playing catch-up.

This kind of change doesn't mean killing existing strategies. But it
does mean making significant investments in visionary projects that
can build new movements. Nonprofit groups in the U.S. spend over $70
million a year to fight global warming. How much of that sum serves
non-environmental groups and advocates for crosscutting policy
initiatives? Next to nothing.

Yet various fringe members of the environmental movement who work
outside traditional borders are clearing the path to victory on
climate change right now. We need more entrepreneurial funders making
venture investments that can yield results in areas as disparate as
toxic wastes and land use. As venture capitalist and environmentalist
Bob Epstein has pointed out, companies in trouble need not change
overnight. But they must take a substantial portion of their present
activity and devote it to new approaches.

Mainstream environmental advocacy organizations and funders need to
adopt a "15% solution." They need to overcome their own conservatism
and invest in deep change. Over a fairly short time, a coordinated
investment of 15% of that $70 million in the best ideas for deep
change -- $10.5 million a year -- would boost our effectiveness
immeasurably.

Right now, the sustainability and environmental justice movements
cannot roll back the right wing's onslaught on civil society, the
middle class, and the environment. But in these movements and a few
others lie the seeds of the environmental movement's rebirth. We need
to water those seeds and give them room to grow.

Action 2: Leadership Without Borders

And if you're wondering why I got kids so big
They weren't born from the body, they were born from the soul
-- Queen Latifah, 1989

Winning will also depend on growing new leadership. The new
environmental leaders will not be policy wonks -- at least not in
public. They will speak to the broader range of problems Americans
face. Ideas need a human face to break through commercial noise and
political disillusionment. Winning movements must actively foster such
leadership and then let it fly.

The U.S. needs to move quickly to solve mammoth problems like climate
change and our dependence on non-renewable sources of energy. But even
if we act with breakneck speed, environmental leaders 50 years from
now will be facing challenges on these very same issues. Ensuring that
our children inherit a better world than we did means preparing them
to lead their own struggles for a just and sustainable future.

The leaders of the new environmental movement are already working in
groups like the Green Corps, the Environmental Leadership Program,
and the Climate Justice Corps. They are also being nurtured by every
activist who mentors interns and younger staff. Today, these programs
often fall short in the same ways "The Death of Environmentalism"
does. They fail to connect the dots between broad social movements and
environmentalism. Younger leaders are starting to break across issue
lines, however, and they are doing this out of more than just youthful
enthusiasm. They are doing it to broaden their base of people and
ideas, and to gain access to more resources. Every mainstream
environmental leader should follow their lead.

Action 3: Transformative Alliances

I'm talking to you, my many inspirations
When I say I can't, let you or self down
If I were of the highest cliff, on the highest riff
And you slipped down the side and clinched on to your life in my grip
I would never, ever let you down
-- J-Ivy, 2004

We agree with the authors of "The Death of Environmentalism," Carl
Pope, and many others on the third and most important ingredient for
social change -- transformative alliances. On its way up in the 1970s,
environmentalism passed civil rights, women's rights, and a number of
other causes in trouble. The 1970s were marked by rancor among
movements as attention strayed from human and environmental justice.
In environmental boardrooms across the country to this day, directors
still make program choices by asking, "If we stop to help another
cause, what will happen to ours?"

Focusing on a well-defined mission is a mark of good nonprofit
management. But the question before us in this political night is not
so different than the one posed by the Good Samaritan on the road to
Jericho or by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis in 1968: "If I do not
stop to help this cause, what will happen to it?" Remember the truth
about the environmental movement's ancestry. Other movements come from
the same family we do. One of our central struggles has always been
getting people to recognize inter-connectedness. Socially,
economically, and environmentally, it's time for us to start walking
the talk.

Conclusion

You gotta understand man
[Elvis] was America's Baby Boom Che.
I oughta know man, I was in his army
-- John Trudell, 1989

In its details, winning means having ideas that fight the big fights,
raise the value of community, and build from small victories to
dominant frames. Winning also means new actions, like investing at
least 15% in deep change strategies, fostering new leadership that
transcends boundaries, and building transformative alliances.

Writ large, the soul of environmentalism shares with the Civil Rights
Movement and many others one central characteristic: empathy. Empathy
is what makes us reach out when we see a wounded bird. It is what
calls to us when a child suffers from poverty or asthma. It is how we
know our children will miss the snow when the latitudes of climate
change have passed us by.

Empathy is also the central component of every point in the short list
of big solutions. It is a central component in moving our country away
from destructive individualism and toward a regenerative idea of
community. It is a big part of what winning means to progressives.

Finally, political empathy is an action, not an emotion. It is
expressed in building coalitions, not in writing essays. It means
seeking and speaking the truth, not denying one's troubled ancestry.
Empathy is about whom you spend your days talking and walking with. It
is how, in Martin Luther King's words, we reach the Mountaintop.

Postscript

And the gas leaks
And the oil spills
And sex sells everything
And sex kills...
-- Joni Mitchell, 1994

Civil Rights and environmentalism share a common lineage. This essay
focuses on what we can learn from that particular confluence. Its
central argument is that we only truly understand our political
predicament when we look at it in new and more inclusive ways. Other
essays can and should be written on the qualities environmentalism
shares with other social movements whose strength seems to be fading.
Two of these movements seem particularly salient right now.

The first concerns efforts to promote economic rights and opportunity,
including organized labor and the anti-poverty movement. Long before
pundits invented terms like "outsourcing," the fight for workers was
steeped in geopolitics. For nearly 100 years, conservatives tarred
labor and anti-poverty advocates by calling them communists. Today
communism is no longer a threat to the U.S. but we are still
struggling to find a productive way to talk about the vast gaps in
wealth and the often inhumane way we make people work. Environmental
problems are commercial and geopolitical in nature, so we have much to
learn by joining forces with labor and antipoverty activists.
Environmental solutions have to do with our relationship to material
wealth, so we must also suggest alternative definitions of wealth in
the future.

The second area of particular importance right now concerns efforts to
promote sexual freedom, including the pro-choice and reproductive
rights movement and the gay rights movement. As the iconic
environmental scientist George Woodwell pointed out recently,
environmentalism and a woman's right to choose are inextricably linked
-- they are both human rights.

It is inconsistent to block a woman's right to choose -- or a gay
person's right to marry -- while advocating free choice in the
destruction of species or landscapes. How do conservatives do that,
and how have our allies in those movements responded? How do we
broaden our connections?

Environmentalism must connect with and be of service to a broader
social movement. This one essay cannot plumb the depths of challenges
and innovations facing our colleagues in every arena, but we do
suggest that our common issues be understood not just along the lines
of race, but also of reproductive rights, sexuality, and class.

Dime con quien andes, y te dire quien eres.
Tell me with whom you walk, and I'll tell you who you are.
-- Mexican proverb

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank John Adams, Adam Albright, Jane Barker, Jim
Barrett, Diana Bauer, Francis Beinecke, Amanda Berger, Ludovic
Blain, Robert Bullard, Michael Cain and the leadership of the Army
Environmental Policy Institute, Vivian Chang, Dahlia Chazan, Jack
Chin, Carmen Concepcion, Robert Cordova, Rabbi Rachel Cowan, Katrina
Croswell, Michelle Depass, Veronica Eady, Brad Edmondson, Juliet
Ellis, Bob Epstein, Torri Estrada, Greg Fawcett, Leslie Fields,
Maggie Fox, Full Court Press Communications, Jihon Gearon, Barry Gold,
Michael Green, Rabbi Irving Greenberg, John Harte, Paul Hawken, Alan
Hecht, Andrew Hoerner, Taj James, Roger Kim, Lilly Lee, Jodi Levin,
Lance Lindblom, Penn Loh, Mindy Lubber, Felicia Marcus, Catherine
Markman, Tom Medvetz, Anuja Mendiratta, Ansje Miller, Sharon Miller,
Sophie Mintier, Rachel Morello-Frosch, Michael Noble, Ted Nordhaus,
Richard Norgaard, Gamaliel Perez, Carl Pope, Steve Posner, Swati
Prakash, Arlene Rodriguez, Rodger Schlickeisen, Michael
Shellenberger, Rev. J. Alfred Smith, Anita Street, Julie Sze, Rev.
Barbara Brown Taylor, Peter Teague, Max Weintraub, Adam Werbach, Bev
Wright, George Woodwell, Eli Yudall, the folks at Redefining
Progress for enthusiastically staffing this effort... and all the
souls who've fed our thinking and our work.

Author Biographies

Michel Gelobter is executive director of Redefining Progress in
Oakland, California.

Michael Dorsey is a member of the Faculty of Science in the
Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College.

Leslie Fields is an environmental lawyer and activist based in
Washington, D.C.

Tom Goldtooth is executive director of the Indigenous Environmental
Network.

Anuja Mendiratta is program officer for Community Development at The
Marin Community Foundation.

Richard Moore is executive director of the Southwest Network for
Economic and Environmental Justice.

Rachel Morello-Frosch is assistant professor of environmental studies
at Brown University.

Peggy M. Shepard is executive director of West Harlem Environmental
Action, Inc.

Gerald Torres is H.O. Head Centennial Professor of Real Property Law
at the University of Texas in Austin and the president of The
Association of American Law Schools.

Copyright 2005. Grist Magazine, Inc.

Return to Table of Contents

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment &
  Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are
  often considered separately or not at all.

  The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining  
  because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who
  bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human
  health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the
  rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among
  workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy,
  intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and
  therefore ruled by the few.  

  In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who
  gets to decide?" And, "How do the few control the many, and what
  might be done about it?"

  As you come across stories that might help people connect the dots,
  please Email them to us at dhn@rachel.org.
  
  Rachel's Democracy & Health News is published as often as
  necessary to provide readers with up-to-date coverage of the
  subject.

  Editors:
  Peter Montague - peter@rachel.org
  Tim Montague   -   tim@rachel.org
  
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